The South West Academic Health Science Network


The South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN) is a membership organisation working to improve the health and patient experience of people in the south west of England by supporting and accelerating innovation.

SWAHSN was set up alongside 14 other Academic Health Science Network’s by the NHS in 2013 in light of the unprecedented demographic, financial and capacity pressures facing the UK’s health and social care system. This pressure led greater focus being given to the role of well-being, early intervention, preventing ill-health and enabling individuals to take greater control of their own care.

SWAHSN believes voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations should play a significant role in the future provision of healthcare. This is because they’re well placed to develop innovative, person-centred responses to the needs of the population and meet the needs of people others may find ‘hard to reach’.


The Good Economy Partnership was commissioned to assess the opportunity to develop VCSE models of health and social care in the South West region and raise new sources of social investment to support their development.

We put together an experienced team to deliver the project. This team explored the “priority needs” NHS commissioners believed VCSE providers could help meet. We also explored what VCSE providers could deliver and the role of finance in making this happen.

We reviewed the evidence, conducted interviews and held workshops to test our emerging findings. Our findings and recommendations were submitted to SWAHSN in a high quality report.

SW list
The Good Economy brought together a knowledgeable and experienced team whose work was influential in developing our strategy.
Jon Siddall, Director of Investment Partnerships, SWAHSN

Our report Innovation in Health and Care: the opportunity for VCSEs in the South West revealed two broad priority areas for health commissioners: these were “Care for the Elderly and Aging Better” and “Healthy Lifestyles”.

The study identified five strategic opportunities for commissioners and VCSE organisations to work on these priorities and explored what financiers could offer to back this innovation.

A short version of the full report is here: Innovation in Health & Care: The Opportunity for VCSE